B S Raghavan

Tempering an overzealous US

B. S. Raghavan | Updated on April 02, 2011

In its recently proclaimed national security strategy, the US welcomes the strategic partnership with India and the opportunity this affords for increased economic, scientific, environmental, and security cooperation and professes to value “India's growing leadership on a wide array of global issues, through groups such as the G-20, (promising) to work with India to promote stability in South Asia and elsewhere in the world.”

(Someone has patiently counted 10 references to China in the US document against only two to India, but let that pass!) India's desire to return the compliment notwithstanding, there's a rub. Realistically, for good or ill, it is impossible for India, or any other country, for that matter, to formulate its national security doctrine without taking into account the mindset, policies and actions of the US.

A close and clinical analysis of the pattern of behaviour of the US throughout its history brings out some definite traits. These are also evident from the documents made available by WikiLeaks and being published by The Hindu.

First is America's unshakeable conviction that what is good for it must necessarily be good for the whole world. From this stems its intolerance of any contrary stand on the part of any individual or the country. It has taken extreme forms including torture and other forms of violence to human rights and bumping off of those (Salvadore Allende of Chile, Patrice Lumumba of Congo) who crossed its path. It also suffers from a paranoidal complex that whoever does not toe its line should, on that score alone, be its ill-wisher, if not an enemy.

Second, a tendency to thrust its own prescriptions forcibly down the throats of other countries by means of conditionalities attached to its domestic enactments providing for aid, civil or military cooperation and other forms of assistance.

Supercilious supercop

Third, arrogating to itself the authority to decide when its interests and values are threatened and launch pre-emptive strikes and overthrow established regimes. In doing so, it doesn't stick at indulging in even exaggerations and falsehoods as when it flaunted the pretext of non-existent weapons of mass destruction to invade Iraq.

In the case of Libya too, the US has by some mysterious process come to the conclusion that Gaddafi has “lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead”, that he will not shrink from massacring his own people and that the US' failure to act would be a betrayal of all that it stands for. It also calls him “a tyrant”, forgetting that it has had no qualm or compunction in pampering and bolstering up tyrants or military dictators so long as they served its self-interest.

The US President, Mr Barack Obama's address to the National Defence University in Washington on March 28, is a telling example of superciliousness of the world's supercop: “There will be times”, says he, “when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are… For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom… (It cannot) brush aside (its) responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances…Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.” (Mark the belittling tone of the last two sentences!)

An additional problem, besides its self-righteousness and intolerance, in dealing with the US is its propensity to form snap judgments, and act on them impulsively.

There can be no question, therefore, of India banking exclusively on the US for going the whole hog in discharging the obligations of the strategic partnership.

While being friendly, correct and dignified with the US, expanding commercial and trade relations, and drawing on its strengths in science and technology, India should protect its paramount interests, depending on its own ingenuity and capabilities.

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Published on April 01, 2011
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